Was Su’a Cravens snubbed by the Butkus and Bednarik awards? The USC football linebacker questioned his lack of award recognition Wednesday.
Cravens tweeted Wednesday that he was not sure why he was not named a finalist for any of the national awards he was listed on earlier this season. He was a semi-finalist for both the Butkus and Bendarik awards.
So the question is, was Cravens snubbed? The statistics suggest he has a case.
The All-Pac-12 first team linebacker heads into USC’s bowl game match up with 78 tackles to his name, including 14.5 tackles for loss and five sacks. He has logged two interceptions and six pass deflections while forcing two fumbles.
As a semi-finalist for the Bednarik, which is given to the nation’s top defensive player, Cravens was passed over for Penn State defensive end Carl Nassib, Temple linebacker Tyler Matakevich and Alabama linebacker Reggie Ragland.
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Compared to the other two linebackers to make the finalist list Cravens’ numbers are not far behind, though he trails significantly in total tackles on the season.
When it comes down to it, the Bednarik only leaves room for three finalists each year so Craven’s chances of reaching that stage were always going to be tough.
The Bednarik has yet to name a winner, but considering Matakevich’s Nagurski win earlier this week, if there was a snub it is highly debatable.
Where Cravens has some room to gripe is with the Butkus Award. With five finalists on the table for the award which goes to the nation’s best linebacker, there would have been much more room to accommodate Cravens’ candidacy.
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Statistically, Cravens fits right in with the group of five finalists. He has more tackles than Georgia’s Leonard Floyd, more tackles for loss and sacks than any of the five, as many interceptions as LSU’s Deion Jones and as many pass break ups and forced fumbles as Alabama’s Reggie Ragland.
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Though one could argue non-statistical reasons for any one of the five finalists to have been included, Cravens has been the undisputed MVP of the Trojan defense. Moreover, he spent much of the season attempting to make up for greater deficiencies across his defensive unit that the others. In a hybrid role, he covered for USC at safety often this season.
Considering the national standing of the teams on which the five finalists play — three are currently in the College Football Playoff committee’s top ten, the other two are SEC defenders — perhaps it was the perception of USC’s defense as a whole which led to Cravens being overlooked.
Notre Dame’s Jaylon Smith was ultimately announced the winner of the Butkus Award Wednesday, but when it comes to being a finalist Cravens looks right — it’s not clear what more he was supposed to do.
As a junior, Cravens would have the opportunity to return to USC for another shot at making an impression for a national award, but the call of the NFL may scratch that chance. He announced on Twitter Monday that he will reveal his choice on Wednesday Dec. 16.